Impact of Protestant spirituality and religious community on the well-being of people in Hong Kong

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Ng, Chi Wai (2009) Impact of Protestant spirituality and religious community on the well-being of people in Hong Kong. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


While the literature demonstrates that the relationship between religion and well-being is generally positive, detailed information about the context where the religion is based is rarely given. Drawing on multi-dimensional perspectives of spirituality, the present study regards spirituality as an integral dimension of a person’s religious beliefs, practices and experiences within a given context. The manifestation of spirituality can be viewed from personal, interpersonal and social dimensions. The primary objective of the study is to examine whether, how and why the spirituality and religious community of Protestant tradition can affect the well-being of people in the context of Hong Kong. In the first phase of the study, 324 Chinese from four Protestant communities, representing four major kinds of Protestant spirituality, and one non-religious comparison group in Hong Kong were recruited. MANOVA results showed that religious community exerted a significant impact on people’s spirituality and sense of community, which enhance their well-being - manifested in life satisfaction, social trust and civic participation. The different religious contexts exhibited different dimensions of spirituality and well-being, suggesting that the impact is not only direct but also dependent on and intertwined with the religious setting. Path analyses demonstrated the complex relationship between spirituality and well-being variables. While some of the spirituality-related variables may directly predict civic participation, the relationship between such variables and life satisfaction and social trust are mainly mediated through mental health and sense of community. The second phase of the study incorporated a field study (participant observation, interview and documentary analysis). Activity setting analysis was used as the interpretive framework, to unpack the elements of the various religious settings and to identify the present and absent conditions that help explain the variety and diversity of well-being outcomes manifested in the survey section. The data showed that immediate religious settings affect people’s emotions, cognitions and behavioural patterns, through relational, ideational and even material aspects of the social environment, which finally lead to various kinds of well-being. Results also demonstrate that not only may the different religious settings enhance different kinds of well-being, but that they also provide different pathways to enhance a certain kind of well-being. These findings suggest that religious impacts on people’s well-being are diverse and intricate. The present study thus confirms the important role of religion in people’s well-being, but further signifies the intricate relationship between the various dimensions of religion and well-being. Moreover, when studying the effects of religion, both the subjective and the community context of a person’s spirituality cannot be overlooked when drawing any conclusion on the costs and benefits of religion.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2204 Religion and Religious Traditions
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords Hong Kong, Protestant spirituality, religious community, well-being
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